December 07, 2023

From the Barns: On the road again

I spent the last two months entertaining myself and can only say that I contributed to the ranch operation by completing most of the frost seeding and attending some grazing and cattle events. I warmed up in Gulf Shores for three weeks and at one point texted Carson, “hope all is well as I won’t be coming back” He didn’t find that very amusing and I soon had to re-text and say, “just kidding.” I will have to say I enjoy walking a gulf beach and then the indoor pool, followed by some reading and then a movie or Hawkeye basketball. Some southern-fried seafood is not bad in between. Anyway, enough of that nonsense!

Frost seeding seemed to go very well and our weather is conducive to some good red clover germination. We used all coated seed this year, Nitro-Coat, although adjusting the seeder to compensate for the extra size and the reluctance of the coat to flow took a little time. Also, put on 5 pounds rather than 3 or 4 to make up for the coat. We have had to brace up the back rack of our 500 Honda with a piece going from the form down to the hitch pin. That works very well, but the machine shocks are negated and the rider takes every bump 100%. An extra cushion helped a little, but each frozen manure pat and rough place in the pasture was still felt up through the hips, back and shoulders.

We’re hoping for good results, as we need a good new flush of clover to negate the effects of the prominent endophyte fescue. I remember not many years back we were considering skipping red clover frost seeding or seeding grass to counter the heavy stands of clover. This winter, we have grazed the stockpile very heavy and hard to give us a friendly seedbed for the frost seeds.

As I mention that, Carson still has 35 cow/calf pairs grazing winter stockpile. It is the longest we have ever gone without feeding harvested feed to everything. The remaining seeding in the South 20 will be done with the no-till drill. Just hope we will have an opportunity to do that sooner than later. We have had such a mild, snow-free winter here, but I am becoming more and more interested in bale grazing as an easy means to stretch winter grazing.

Time since I returned from the south has gone fast with seeding and attending events. Elton Mau and I took in the Heart of America Grazing Conference held in southern Indiana at Ferdinand. Cliff Schuette and Ted Krauskopf also helped represent Illinois and the two days went quickly with plenty of good presentations and networking.

One day back home and then off to the Illinois Beef Expo with Christian Lovell, our new grazing coordinator for the Illinois Grazing Lands Coalition. We had a busy day introducing Christian to as many people as possible and catching up with cattle friends I had not seen for a while.

We even got in a quick interview with Rita Frazer on RFD Radio Network. I hope this helps spread the word that the Illinois Grazing Lands Coalition is the voice of grazing for the state and Christian is the coordinator. And, by the way, before leaving the fairgrounds, we made a quick tour of the new IBA headquarters on the fairgrounds and were very impressed with the room they have there — what an advantage in their location. Plenty of bull and heifer sales coming up quickly in this part of the state, including the Western Illinois University sale on Friday night, March 10.

We still need runoff rains to refill ponds that are at their lowest since they were built. I am cautious about saying that, but we will have some issues if that doesn’t happen in the spring. Ever notice how a 32-degree morning in March is better feeling than the same temperature in January? But, at the same time, a 50-degree early spring day with a south wind is also not that comfortable. It must be all about attitude and whether or not you have a bad case of spring fever.

Heading for Rockford Saturday to see my granddaughter perform in the Guilford High School Valkyries synchronized swimming show. Until next month, stay safe and sane!

Trevor Toland

Trevor Toland

Macomb, Ill.